Morning all. A great weekend, I got some real roast chicken in my bowl and I got the mouse! Early Sunday morning I crept into the main office and there he was sitting in the middle of the floor eating some crumbs. I pounced on him and got him with my right paw. I then grabbed him in my mouth and took him into the garden to play with him. Unfortunately, I must have bit him too hard as he was dead, so I went back to bed. When Bozzie took the Mutt for a constitutional around the garden, after breakfast, the Mutt found the body. Bozzie shouted for someone to clear it up.
Over the weekend it emerged that the Government is stepping in to try to get the collapsing Hammersmith Bridge fixed. For over a year it has been closed to vehicles but bicycles and pedestrians could still use it. Neither Hammersmith and Fulham Council or Transport for London did anything to repair it claiming it would cost £40 million pounds. Then suddenly it was closed to pedestrians, cyclists and even to boats going underneath it because it had deteriorated so much as to be dangerous because the authorities had done nothing. Locals complained that it now takes 1 hour and twenty minutes to walk around the detour when crossing the bridge used to take a couple of minutes and the council and TfL both claimed they don’t have the now £140 million it will cost to repair. So Grunt Shatts has stepped in and inspected the bridge accompanied by Network Rail bridge expects. They have promised to have a costed report on his desk this week. It will be interesting to see what the report says.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to a bit of fun in the House of Commons this evening with the second reading of the Internal Markets Bill. Bozzie is going in to bat for the Government and Kier Stoma was supposed to be leading for the Opposition. However, I hear that after he had been on LBC at Breakfast this morning Stoma got a message that one of his household had got coronavirus symptoms and he rushed off to self-isolate. A bit later I heard Bozzie on the phone to him saying how sorry he was not to be debating him later. Why did he have his fingers crossed behind his back? I hear the voting will be after my bedtime so I will report on it tomorrow.
I see that Sad Dick has upset a lot of Londoners this weekend by changing the law on most red route bus lanes so that they can be used by buses and bicycles only 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Poor old taxis, that up to now, have been able to use bus lanes have been banned, pushing up journey times and consequently fares. But that’s only part, why 24 hours a day when many of the buses don’t run overnight! But Sad Dick has been doing lots of other things that have been upsetting people, from banning certain advertising on the buses and tubes, to new bicycle lanes to school streets and upping the congestion charge. It’s hardly surprising to see that in Conservative private polling his numbers have dropped and Shuan Bailey’s are increasing. Bailey is up from 23% a month ago to 35%, it looks like he has Sad Dick in his sights.
I hear there are early plans for a light railway/tramway service in southern Essex. The Croydon like service would run between Basildon, Brentford, Greys and Southend, linking them to Southend Airport. The stated cost is an unbelievably low £93 million. Considering that the cost of the Croydon tram extension to Sutton is budgeted at £330 million this seems much to low, surely it should be at least double that. Mind you, costs are probably a lot less in Essex and you don’t have the free-spending TfL in charge.
While talking about railways I hear talk of doing away with the current franchise system. Instead, the franchisees will be offered a contract to run services as their current franchises expire. The main difference is they be paid to operate the services and the Government will take all the income from ticket sales with Network Rail still running the fracks and signalling. Network Rail have also published a report on the of future trains saying that diesel should be phased out and that thousands of track miles should be electrified. Where that was impractical new trains should be either battery or hydrogen-powered. It sounds just like when steam was phased out in favour of diesel, we will come to regret it.
So that Poison Dwarf Bercow has been making a lot of money since leaving the Speaker’s job. Fedhead, the Company that he owns 76% 24% with his wife Sally, reported it made £547,664 last year. I hear he got paid £60,000 for his election night appearance on Sky News and that he has joined a company that supplies speakers for £25,000 a time. As Speaker, he was paid £150,000 a year. Pity he didn’t go sooner.
I read that there is a job vacancy in Crawley that no one wants. It was first advertised a year ago and is yet to get a single applicant. What is it you ask? Well, it is a school lollipop person! It’s only part-time, 30 to 40 minutes each school day morning and evening, and only pays £8.72p an hour with uniform and Lollipop stick provided. If you are retired and live in the Tilgate area you could earn yourself a few extra pounds and the thanks of a lot of children.
A lovely morning, clear blue sky and pleasantly warm. Felix chicken in gravy for breakfast. Wilf gurgling in his high chair. Bozzie tucking into poached egg on toast. A beautiful start to the day. I jumped on the papers when Bozzie dropped them on the floor so that I could read them.
I see Bozzie got his Internal Markets Bill through 3 votes in the Commons last night, all by a big majority. Now it’s on the committee stage this afternoon. It will be a committee of the whole house with the speaker (or a deputy) acting as chairman. Once again the SNP will be pushing amendments to cripple the bill.
Ocado put out a market statement this morning reflecting on the changes made since swapping over their grocery partner from Waitrose to Marks and Spencer. It admitted that it had been caught out on the first weekend when they had been overwhelmed with order and had to cancel some. Things have now evened out and they have retained 98% of the Waitrose customers and their overall sale have leapt. The 4000 items offered by Waitrose have been replaced by 4600 M&S items with chilled meal proving extremely popular.
So Hitachi has today pulled out of the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, effectively killing off the project, because they could not come to a financial agreement with the Government. But we still need new-build nuclear for our baseload and to generate power on those days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. I was interested to read that the Americans are on the verge of ordering it’s first small module reactor. The designers NuScale Power have been licensed to build their SMR’s on a factory production line and ship them to site. The first customer in Utah is expected to place an order later this year or early next year for 12 x 60 Mw units (720 Mw Power Station) with the first unit working by 2029. NuScale have already started to place orders for heavy forgings and pressure parts with the South Korean Company Doosan Heavy industry. Doosan have several British power station and construction subsidiaries so this is the way to go.
It is Gibraltar’s national day today and for the first time in history, the leaders of all four home nations have sent messages of goodwill to the Rock. Bozzie, Wee Krankie, The Big Irish Woman and DucksandDrakeford all sent individual notes. The Spanish have been making noises about Gibraltar again and I suspect these messages are more about sending a warning to Spain than anything else.
You have to chuckle sometimes. This morning The Times was saying that AstraZeneca shares went down 0.3% (29p) yesterday after it had got permission to resume its coronavirus trial and it would have to do a lot more to convince investors. Well, it seems The Times was wrong because at close of business today the price had gone by 2.44% (205p).
I know a lot of my faithful readers hate Gary Lineker so I bet you are all delighted to hear that he has agreed to take a 25% wage cut from the BBC. Mind, he will still be taking home £1.35 million from the Beeb. But don’t feel sorry for him he still has his contracts with BT for presenting the Champions League and with Walkers for advertising their crisps.
Before I go for my dinner I hear that a good story is emerging from Dublin. It seems that after presenting a new Covid-19 plan the Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, felt unwell and contacted his Doctor for a test. As he had attended a recent cabinet meeting the entire Irish Cabinet is now self-Isolating. Then the Speaker of the Dail announced the full suspension of the Irish parliament for an unlimited period. One member of the cabinet was already isolating as a member of his family is awaiting the result of a test.
Another nice morning and Felix Duck in Gravy for breakfast. Not my favourite but not bad. Bozzie has got his good suit on so he must be doing PMQs this lunchtime and I know he is giving evidence to the liaison committee later. I understand that Stoma has not “prepared” to take PMQs as his relative only got a negative test result this morning. He is going to be up against Crayons.
A Congressional Report has just been published on the Boeing 737 Max saga. It is very hard-hitting, ripping into both Boeing and the regulator the FAA. It says Boeing were trying to cut costs at every opportunity and had a “culture of concealment”, actively choosing to hide the MCAS system, that caused the two fatal crashes, from customers and flight crews. They failed to mention it manuals or documentation despite the company’s engineers and technicians recommending it should be included. The management didn’t want to know about it because it would mean having to retrain pilots on simulators adding to costs. The FAA are accused of being in Boeing’s pocket and letting them set out the certification rules for the plane. I wonder if the relatives of those killed in the crashes will be looking for even more compensation now.
At the Grenfell enquiry today it was revealed that the company that installed the cladding got a 48% discount on the cladding materials. My scribe, WorthingGooner, used to work in the refurbishment industry and says he can’t ever remember getting such a big discount on anything. Some things like office furniture and carpet tiles are often subject to big discounts but 48% is exceptional. It makes you wonder why the company would offer such a huge amount.
I hear that Bozzie has come to an agreement with the Tory backbenchers who have threatened to support Sir Bob Neill’s amendment to the Internal Markets Bill next week. I believe he has promised to give MPs “an extra layer of parliamentary oversight” whatever that means. Still, it looks like Bozzie is winning. At the Liaison Committee this afternoon Remoaner Hilary Benn asked Bozzie if the thought that the EU were negotiating in good faith. Bozzie answered, “I don’t believe they are”. I think he is right.
Earlier this week the head of the CBI, Caroline Fairbairn, joined in enthusiastically when the Daily Mail started campaigning for a return to the office. But she is still working from her Winchester home and not the London office. This is despite her not having to suffer the train to London as she has a chauffeur-driven car. Is it a case of do as I say and not as I do?
I read in the Evening Standard that the Government is worried about the number of coronavirus cases in London, they are double the national average ten of the capitals borough have a rate of over 30 cases per 100,000 and the R rate is over 1.2. The word is if the new ban on meetings of more than six is not seen to have some effect in two or so weeks then a curfew could be introduced. This would ban most people from being out of the house between ten pm and five am. I must admit I am a bit bothered that I would not be able to go out into the garden at night.
The Queen and Phil the Greek left Balmoral today after their six week summer holiday. They were driven to the airport to fly down to Sandringham where they will have another two week holiday. They will then return to their COVID secure bubble at Windsor Castle. I hear that Phil the Greek would really have liked to stay in Sandringham, living in the cottage he has been using since withdrawing from public life. However, he has been told that there are insufficient staff to have two COVID secure bubbles so he has reluctantly agreed to join the Queen in Windsor Castle.
It is nice not having to get up early to hunt for the mouse, but I can still smell mouse in the main office. I don’t think there is another one, but the mouse smell is still quite strong. I must try to get up early tomorrow to check things out. I bet there is nothing, but I just need to be sure.
The first thing I read this morning was that according to the numbers from the ONS 62% of workers travelled to work last week and 20% were working from home. By my calculations that means 18% of the workforce were doing nothing. Are these the people who are going to be made redundant when the furlough scheme ends? In late May only 36% were travelling to work, so it looks like quite a lot of people are doing what the Government want and going back to work.
With there not being many air travellers around, airlines have been encouraging people to fly. Normally this involves cheap flights and advertising visits to lands with white beaches and lots of sunshine. In this country, a seven-hour flight would get you to the Caribbean, if you can put up with wearing a mask for that long. But in Australia, a seven-hour flight will get you back to where you started. Qantas has announced a scenic site seeing flight from Sydney circling round over Queensland, the Gold Coast, New South Wales and the outback. The flight will fly low over Sydney Harbour and the Great Barrier Reef before returning to Sydney. Would you really want to spend seven hours in a mask and not have a nice holiday at the end?
It’s Thursday and this week’s changes to the coronavirus quarantine list have been announced. The speculation this morning was that Denmark and Ireland could be added to the banned list but as happened neither were instead it was Slovenia and Guadeloupe. That will be bad news for lovers of “Death in Paradise” as it filmed in Guadeloupe. If you fancy a long-distance exotic holiday you can now go to Singapore and Thailand as they have both been taken off the list.
I read that a small primary school in Bacup has had to close because of coronavirus. Not in the pupils, they are all OK, it’s the teachers that have got it. Eight of them went to a party for an old colleague over a week ago and they have then passed it on to 3 more teachers who weren’t at the party. With 11 teachers down there was no way the school could stay open.
A new COVID lockdown has been announced for the Northeast of England. This one is huge one affecting about 2,000,000 people in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland. People in these areas are banned from mixing in other people’s houses. Pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises will have to close down at 10pm and 5am and only table service will be allowed.
Autumn is certainly arriving quickly, it was quite chilly this morning before the sun got fully up. I popped out for a pee before breakfast and didn’t stay out for long. Anyway Bozzie was busy reading the papers when I got back and was laughing at the Matt cartoon in the Telegraph. It had Dilyn writing a secret No 10 diary on a laptop. Bozzie showed it to the Little Otter saying, “Can you imagine the secrets that he hears?” Little does he know! Mind you Dilyn is so thick, if he had a Laptop he would be chewing it.
I heard someone talking about the September new car sales this morning. September is usually a good month for sales as the new Registration plate is out. Last year there were 343,000 new car sales and although it is only halfway through the month car dealerships are reporting that they have already exceeded this number and expect to beat last year by a considerable margin. There seems to be a combination of pent up demand from lockdown, people treating themselves from the money saved during lockdown and people not wanting to return to public transport.
I read that the Royal Navy has had three successes against drug smuggling in the Caribbean. The support ship RFA Argus has recovered eleven bales of cocaine from the ocean. A US Coast Guard plane spotted a suspicious ship low in the water. Argus used bad weather to approach unseen until the last minute and Royal Marines boarded catching the ship’s crew dumping the bales in the sea. The crew were taken onboard Argus and the ship sunk. The other two incidents involved HMS Medway who stopped a ship and recovered 16 bales arresting 3 crew. The following day they made another stop and recovered another 8 bales and arrested another 3 crew. All told the street value of the cocaine recovered is said to be £91 million.
The number of new positive coronavirus test has gone up to 4322 today, the R-value has gone up to 1.2, more people are being admitted to hospitals and deaths are going up. More regions have been put on lockdown today parts of Lancashire, Merseyside, the Midlands and West Yorkshire. It’s odd that nearly everywhere in trouble is in the North or Midlands. Bozzie is threatening another general lockdown if things don’t improve soon.
It’s not all bad news though. The ONS numbers for August retail sales were out this morning and are up 0.8% on the previous month. Sales are up 4% on the numbers before March when the pandemic was declared. The strongest sellers were DIY and household goods while clothing was down a little. Is it another case of people who have been working from home saving money on fares and spending it on household luxuries and redecorating the room they have been using.
The Royal Mint say they are not going to mint any more 2p or £2 coins for ten years. They say that people are using less change these days and that at the current rate they have enough coinage in stock to merit calling a halt to production. Personally, I think it’s all a conspiracy to get everyone using plastic so that there is a record for every sale and nobody can escape paying tax.
I read that there is a new disease outbreak in China. This time several thousand people in the city of Lanzhou have developed Brucellosis which is fairly common in cattle. A pharmaceutical factory in the city had been producing a brucellosis vaccine for cattle and had used out of date disinfectant to clean up which had not killed the bacteria. Consequently, it had been expelled up the factory chimney as an aerosol and had infected many of the workers and students at the nearby university. It gives sufferers headaches, fevers, joint pain and in rare cases heart inflammation. Death from brucellosis is very rare although people often never fully recover and suffer relapses years later.
I happened to walk down the main stairs today and a picture of that horrible woman who used to live here has been put up. Some workmen came in the other day and put a nail in the wall and an empty frame was hung up, now it contains her picture. Every time I see her it makes me feel ill, she hated me. Not like that nice Dave who rescued me from Battersea, or Bozzie and the Little Otter who give me lots of Felix chicken. I suppose I shall have to use the back stairs more often, but I always thought they were for the servants.
I heard a story from Canada on the radio this morning. A police car attempted to stop a car speeding at 93 mph. When they eventually succeeded they found the Tesla electric car was in auto-drive mode and the driver had been asleep!
As I said yesterday the warm spell seems to over. It’s dull and breezy this morning. Bozzie wasn’t very happy at breakfast, complaining that everyone wants him to do something different about COVID and they are all wise after the event. Back in the Spring, they all wanted Lockdown, then when he did it they moaned about it ruining the economy. They wanted more testing like Germany, he gave them more than Germany. They wanted the track and trace, they got it. He said whatever he does they moan but Stoma in particular never always wants the impossible. For a moment I felt sorry for him, then my full breakfast bowl arrived.
I read that some of the electricity supply companies want to be able to use smart meters to cut off people’s supplies when there is a shortage of power. Isn’t this just what opponents of smart meters have always claimed would happen and the electric suppliers always said would never happen. But why are we likely to be short of electricity? Could it be that much pushed “green” wind and solar are not capable of meeting the countries demand without the support of fossil fuels? Now that the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station is not going to be built we need something else, but we seem to be in the hands of the green lobby who don’t want gas, coal or nuclear. I think you all need to grow a fur coat like me.
Have you got a Smartmeter?
I’m sure you read that Dominic Rabbit has been in the United States for talks with US officials and politicians, but I see one of his bodyguards left his pistol and holster in his seat when he got off. A United Airlines cleaner at Heathrow found the gun and reported it to the authorities. The Special Branch officer has been suspended pending an investigation. But it’s only a month since another Special Branch bodyguard left his gun and the passports of himself and “call me Dave” Cameron in a toilet during a flight. That time they were returned to him by a flight attendant. What is it with these bodyguards leaving their guns lying around.
It seems that a recaptured escaped prisoner made a special plea of mitigation at a hearing yesterday. Nearing the end of a sentence for a firearms offence Akram Uddin walked out of an open prison “because he wanted to see his mother”. When, accompanied by his solicitor, he attempted to hand himself in at Lewisham Police Station he was told to do away as there was not a warrant out for his arrest. Over the next couple of weeks, he made six more attempts to hand himself in. On the final occasion, he was told to come back in seven days! However, this proved impossible as he was arrested six days later. The judge sentenced him to four months for escaping but ordered the police to mount an investigation and report back to the court within 28 days.
I read that during lockdown the police received loads of complaints from motorists that there were loads of speeding motorbikes on the roads all making loads of noise. It seems that motorbikes are allowed to make a maximum of 82 decibels. The police quickly purchased a load of sound meters and set them to 90 decibels using a similar rule to the speeding rule of 10% + 2mph over the limit. At the same time, they ventured out with speed guns. What was the result? The same number of motorbikes as usual got tickets for speeding and noise but the number of motorists done for speeding increased considerably.
The ex-Labour deputy leader Fatty Watson has taken a new job as an advisor with the bookmakers Paddy Power. It has been said that his annual salary will be “less than six figures”. l bet there are a load of people who would love to earn that much, especially from a company they have been rude about in the past. He is on record as calling them “dirty” and “money-grabbing” and in an interview on Radio 5 he said of them that they were “not remotely interested in anything other than making money”. Looks like he has joined the money-grabbing club.
Before I go to get my dinner I have one last story for your amusement. At about 01:30 this morning a front seat passenger fell out of a car window on the M25 near the Clackets Lane services. It seems she was filming a segment for Snapchat and leant out too far and fell into the live traffic lane. An ambulance treated her at the site but she only had superficial injuries and was not taken to hospital and no arrests were made. Lucky woman.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file